24 August 2008

CHURCH ELECTIONS - but...stay within the lines!

We are members of "Iglesia Evangelica, Comunidad Cristiana, 'Pueblo de Dios'" here is San Cristóbal and we love our church.

We love our church family here, and the wonderful way they do things "Guatemalan".
They have accepted us just as anybody else, not treating us differently, or 'special' because we're North Americans, or 'missionaries'. When we started attending Pueblo de Dios, we told them we just wanted to attend, not be expected to do much for awhile. We needed time to fit in, we needed time to learn more Spanish, and just how things are done here. Many times in churches here, when a North American or missionary becomes part of the church, they are looked to for answers to everything, to be in charge of things and to lead. There is an attitude toward North Americans in situations like that of "they can do anything, and know what should be done".
Our church was so gracious, they gave us time to just fit in, and they loved us just like anyone else there.
We have gradually become more involved, and the church is growing! We have had a few groups come and work in the church, and that has really made our church come together in a lot of ways. I am helping lead the youth group, and when I started we had 4 youth each week, now we average between 15 - 20, and are seeing changes taking place in our youth!

Youth at Pueblo de Dios

I have become more involved in some leadership, and am gradually being asked to do more.
Mike presenting a group to the church
Sandi has been involved with a womens bible study that meets weekly and we have hosted a few church functions in our home.
Then, just recently our church leadership has been preparing to form a new board. We need a "Board of Directors" to replace our "Board of Service" for some legal reasons to resolve some long standing issues and get everything back under the "official" direction of the church. They asked me if I would be willing to serve and if they could put my name on the ballot with 3 others for position of Tesorero (Treasurer). I said yes, and so they put me on the ballot.
You gotta love the way they do things here...They asked me on Thursday and Saturday we had a congregational meeting to elect a new board! After a lengthy explanation of the procedures for choosing a board and how to vote, each member of the church over 18 and baptised, was given a ballot and a.........CRAYON!

We had plenty of pencils, but no sharpener it appears. So...improvise! I LOVE IT!
Anyway, when the dust settled (or crayon shavings) out of 29 ballots cast I received 25 votes, so am now the new Tesorero for Pueblo de Dios.
Fortunately, the previous Tesorera will now be the Pro-Tesorera (vice-treasurer) and will help me a lot. I do not know the tax system or how church finances work here in Guatemala. (Not that I know much of that in the USA either)
Of all the jobs I could have in a church, being the treasurer is probably not the one I would seek, however, they have asked me to do this and I consider it a privilege to serve our brothers and sisters at Pueblo de Dios is this way. They have shown great love for us, and great confidence in us and we consider it an honor and a blessing to be members of Pueblo de Dios!

Doing the "MAINE" thing

So....again it's been awhile since our last post, and yes, it's been fun!

We returned from Texas July 26 and had a group here waiting for us! It was a group from a church in PA that supports another CAM missionary here, and he asked my help in leading half of the group in construction projects in the music dept at SETECA. We built cabinets for instrument storage, shoe racks for childrens classes and painted a lot of the music dept.

We had a few days after they left to prepare for another group from Wilton MAINE! That's a long ways from here! They are from Calvary Hill Baptist Church in Wilton, and this was their first trip to Guatemala! There were 30 people in the group, with ages from 8 to 64!

The "MAINE" group at our church 'Pueblo de Dios'

We started out with two days in the capital, visiting some sights, learning about and praying with the people at Kairos House, a home for kids with cancer and their families.

Kairos House
Sunday morning the group attended our church 'Pueblo de Dios' and led some of the worship time! After church they climbed on the bus for the long ride to Huehuetenango. In Huehue, the group worked during the days at Berea Bible Institute, painting, plastering, sewing, sifting sand, building closets, playing fútbol (soccer) and having fun!

Sifting sand for mortar

Sewing new curtains for Telma, who works in the kitchen and whose husband is a teacher

The youngest boys worked the hardest!

We also spent some time doing things besides work. One evening we visited a local church, Nueva Jerusalén, where the group sang some songs, gave a couple of testimonies, and Mike Wolfe gave a great message!

Singing at Nueva Jerusalén
Another highlight was visiting a Mayan community and the CAM church there and holding a VBS for the kids! There were about 150 kids there, and many accepted Christ for the first time!

A few of the kids at VBS

On the return to Guatemala City from Huehue, we spent an afternoon in Antigua so the team could do some shopping and sightseeing. While in Antigua, one of the team, Barb, was pushed from behind in a crowd, and moments later discovered her bag had been cut open and her wallet and passport were gone! So...after filing a police report, we said goodbye to 29 of the team the next day and Barb got the privilege of spending a couple more days in Guatemala! We got her a new passport on Monday and she finally got home to Maine on Tuesday.

During all of this time with the wonderful folks from Maine, we still had one intern here with us...Molly Perara, aka...Guatemolly! We took Molly with us and the team to Huehue, and Molly got a special treat! Molly is a linguistics major at WWU (that's Western Washington U for you East coasters) and is very interested in the Mayan dialects. There is a CAM couple in Huehue, The Ekstrom's, that have helped translate the bible into several Mayan dialects. They took Molly to the town of Nebaj, where they attended the dedication of the New Testament into the local dialect. This does not happen very often, takes years and years in fact, so the timing to have a dedication while Molly could attend was God sent!
Molly worked at Casita Benjamín while here except for our trip to Huehue. We truly loved having Molly here, she became like part of our family, but, she too has returned home a few days ago.

Molly with kids from Casita Benjamín

Next up, a 17 yr old friend coming to stay and work with us for 3 weeks. We will host 4 men from World Orphan visiting to see about partnership possibilities here with CAM. We have 4 interns arriving in September, 2 for 3 months, 1 for 6 months and 1 for 8 months!

02 August 2008


Well, I haven't updated our blog since shortly after our summer interns arrived, and now they are already gone! (except for one, Molly)
The time went very fast, as happens when you are incredibly busy, but it was fun, very rewarding for us, and we saw some lives changed!
Our 8 interns were involved in many different ministries, serving in many different locations, which is one of the reasons we were always on the go.
We had two serving at Casita Benjamín, and visiting Kairos each week with us.
We had two serve at The Oasis, a home for girls located in San Lucas.
We had two girls in Patzún, helping in various ways at the Alfa y Omega church.
And, last but not least, we had two guys who traveled all over, visiting many different places and missionaries to make videos for the various ministries.

We also tried to get some of them together from time to time, for some fun.

Leslie Anne, Grace, Molly & Heidi visit Mayan ruins at Iximché

We also were able to visit Panajachel and Lake Atítlan, maybe the most beautiful lake in the world! We also went to Antigua, and even spent a morning at the zoo!
Elliott, Matthew, Molly, Leslie Anne, Grace, Heidi and Lynn at the ZOO!

As the interns time in Guatemala came to an end, we brought them all back together for a couple days here in Guatemala City for a mini de-brief. This started with a big surprise! Without Heidi knowing, we brought all of the interns to Casita Benjamín to surprise her on her birthday!

Loyda, the Casita's director, brought Heidi out blindfolded as we lit firecrackers!


We then had a birthday party with the Kids and staff at the Casita.


Wouldn't be birthday party without cake!

However, all good things come to an end, and we move forward to the next good thing! After 2 days together all of the interns, except Molly, left for Denton, Texas, for "Next Step", a 2 day time together with CAM interns from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and Spain. We shared, processed and planned what it all means and where do we go from here.

Check out the video of CAM Summer Interns 2008

Click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV602xZLEmM

Sandi, me and Felicita and Maria all were a part of Next Step also, and were able to spend some time with friends from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, and also some time at CAM headquarters in Dallas.

Break time at Next Step

Guatemala Summer Interns 2008

We still have one intern with us, Molly Perara, who will be here until August 21. She is helping at Casita Benjamín, and will join us in Huehuetenango August 10 - 17 to help us with a group of 30 coming from Calvary Hill Baptist Church in Wilton, Maine.

Molly Perara at Casita Benjamín

While we were in Texas we spent some time with the team from St. Andrew that had been in Guatemala last March. It was great fun to see most of the group, and even more special was that several of the girls traveled to Denton just to see us! Alyx actually flew up to see us, and Sarah drove about 5 hours to get there!

Sarah, Brandi Lynn and Alyx with Felicita and Maria

So...what's next?

Well, Molly is here, we just finished helping with a group from PA for a week, working at SETECA. We have the group of 30 from Maine coming in less than a week, 4 men from World Orphan are coming to meet with us for a few days who are interested in partnering with CAM for some projects in Guatemala. Then we have 4 more interns arriving in September. 2 will be here for 2 1/2 months, 1 for 6 months and 1 for 8 months!

It's busy, but, we love it...we are seeing lives changed and people in Guatemala being blessed by all that is being done! God has been so faithful, and He is doing great things here in Guatemala!

We continue to be involved with our church, Kairos Ministry and Casita Benjamín while all of the activity swirls around us!